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July 20, 1973 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1973-07-20

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Missionary Proselytizing Fallacies Exposed in Young Scholar's Analysis,

Editor's Note: This paper is
the result of a thorough
study of the missionaries'
proselytizing tactics. It was
written by a young theologi-
cal student who prefers not
to append his name to it be-
cause of further studies he is
soon to publish on the sub-

ethical preachings of Jesus
which are of a spiritual
character were already part
of the Jewish heritage. The
Old Testament is full of
passages like:
Love thy neighbor as thy-
self (Leviticus 19:18)
He hath showed thee, 0
man, what is good and
what doth the Lord require
es • *
of thee but to do justly,
The "Jews for Jesus" ap-
and to love mercy, and to
peal of the "Key '73" mis-
walk humbly with thy God
sionary campaign is based
(Mica 6:8).
on two points, one that Jesus
as the ideal of diyine corn- In fact, classical Rabbinic
passion, selflessness, and literature contains very close
gentleness provides a fulfill- parallels to nearly all the
ment where Judaism leaves sayings of Jesus. These have
a void, and the other that been collected in the massive
Jesus is the Jewish Messiah New Testament commentary
—a fulfillment and not a of Strack and Bielbeck which
denial of the Jewish tradition. de v o t e s several hundred
Both of these points are in- pages to the Book of Matthew
alone. The "Jewish void"
The missionaries' image exists only in the minds of
of Jesus is not borne out by people uninformed about Ju-
the gospels' own account of daism and unfamiliar with
His life and deeds. The mis- classical Jewish literature.
The missionaries say Ju-
sionaries portray Jesus as
compassionate, but when a daism and belief in Jesus as
Canaanite w om an begged the Messiah are compatible.
Jesus to have mercy on her To prove their contention,
and use his powers to cure they adduce Old Testament
her demoniac daughter, he "M e s s i a ni c" prophecies
which Jesus allegedly ful-
It was only to the lost filled, featuring the "suffer-
servant" passage
sheep of the house of Is-
rael that I was sent. It is Isaiah, Chapter 53 and the
not fair to take the chil- "Immanuel" passage of
dren's bread and throw it Isaiah, Chapter '7. Before
to the dogs [i.e., Gentiles] ever, it should first be made
clear that there are many
(Matthew 15:26).
prophecies about the Mes-
Only when she pleaded that siah throughout the Old
"the dogs eat the crumbs Testament, and the true
which fall from the master's Jewish Messiah must fulfill
table" (15:27) did Jesus them all. If there is even
agree to help her—not in the one Messianic p r o phe cy
spirit of one who gives bread Jesus manifestly failed to
to his children but rather one fulfill, he cannot be the Jew-
who tosses a crumb to a dog. ish Messiah. And there are
The missionaries depict at least two such unfulfilled
Jesus as so gentle that he prophecies:
would not "break ,a bruised (1) Thus saith the Lord God:
reed" (Isaiah 42:3). The gos-
Behold, I will take the
pels paint a different picture
children of Israel from
here too:
among the nations whith-
He felt hungry, and notic-
er they are gone, and
ing a fig tree by the road-
will gather them on every
side he went up to it, but
side, and bring them into
found nothing on it except
their own land: And I
leaves. He said to it, "May
will make them one na-
no fruit ever come from
tion in the land upon
you after this." And in-
the mountains of Israel;
stantly the fig tree wither-
and one king shall be
ed up (Matthew 21:18-19).
king to them all .. . and
The missionaries present
David my servant shall
Jesus as the embodiment of
be king over them (Eze-
love. Yet we find he himself
kiel 37:20-22, 24 com-
was disdainful, not loving,
pare Isaiah 11:11-12).
to his mother Mary:
The coming of Jesus was not
As the wine (at the wed- accompanied by the political
ding feast) ran short, the redemption of the Jewish
mother of Jesus said to people.
him, "They have no wine." (2) That the government
"Sir o m a n," said Jesus,
may be increased and of
"what have you to do with
peace there be no end,
me?" (John 2:3).
upon the throne of David
Contrast, incidentally, Jesus'
and upon his kingdom
own declaration that one in-
. . . (Isaiah 9:6)
herits eternal life by honor-
And I shall set up one
ing his parents (Mark 10:19).
shepherd over them, my
Finally, the missionaries
servant David . . . and
draw Jesus as a paragon of
I will make with them a
selflessness: knowing that he
covenant of peace (Eze-
kiel 34:23, 25).
was "a ransom for many"
(Mark 10:45), he submitted The Messiah's coming is ex-
to death and the agony of pected to usher in an era of
crucifixion with equanimity peace. Jesus himself was the
and even joy. However, first to admit he had not
Jesus' words at Gethsemane brought, or even come to
as he viewed his fate reflect- bring, peace:
ed neither joy nor equani-
Never imagine I have
come to bring peace on
earth; I have not come to
"My soul is exceedingly
sorrowful, even unto death"
bring peace but a sword.
(Mark 14:34).
I have come to set a man
And, at the moment of truth,
against his father and a
Jesus proved to be totally
daughter against her moth-
er . . . yes, a man's own
My God, my God, why hast
household will be his ene-
thou forsaken me? (Mark
mies (Matthew 10:34-36).
14:34) was his dying cry.
The countless internal and
The missionaries' Jesus is external Christian religious
thus a fiction pure and wars and bloody religious
simple. An honest search for persecutions of the last two
religious fulfillment in Ju- thousand years have proved
daism will reveal the "Jewish how truly Jesus spoke. Con-
void" to be the same. The trast, incidentally, with what

Jesus said, the Old Testa-
ment prophecy concerning
Elijah, not the Messiah but
merely the Messiah's herald
and forerunner:
And he shall turn the heart
of the fathers to the chil-
dren and the heart of the
children to their fathers
Malachi 4:6).
The missionaries try to ac-
count for some of the pro-
phecies Jesus obviously did
not fulfill by claiming he will
fulfill them at the time of
his "second coming." But
the Old Testament itself
says nothing about a second
coming of the Messiah. The
very notion runs counter to
all the Old Testament Messi-
anic prophecies, in which the
Messiah is always portrayed
as a totally successful ruler,
and not one who, failing the
first time, will find it nec-
essary to come back for an-
other try.
But all this aside, the
"suffering servant" and "Im-
manuel" passages are not
really the "proof texts" they
are claimed to be; on analy-
sis, neither is even Messi-
The suffering servant of
God is the subject of Isaiah
52:13-15-53:1-12. He "will be
exalted and extolled" al-
though presently "despised
and rejected of men" and
"cut off from the land of
the living." Those who will
hear the reports of his exal-
tation will conclude his orig-
inal suffering was not for
his own sins: "The Lord hath
laid upon him the iniquity of
all of us." He himself had
"done no violence" and will
"see his seed and prolong
his days" as a reward for
his "pouring (more correctly,
"laying open") his soul to
death." The missionaries,
taking this passage to be a
Messianic prophecy, identify
the suffering servant with
Jesus, whose death was a
"ransom for many" (Mark
10:45) and whose reward
was exaltation' after the
There are four telling ob-
jections to a Messianic in-
terpretation of this passage,
and they all point to the
identification of the suffering
servant with the Jews exiled
to Babylon as captives by
Nebuchadnezzer at the be-
ginning of the seventh cen-
tury BCE, who returned
to their land some seventy
years later with the permis-
sion of Cyrus of Persia,
shortly after he conquered
the Babylonian e m p i r e.
These objections are based
on con t e x t, terminology,
tense, and compatibility with
Old Testament ideas and
literary usage.
(1) This passage is located
in the midst of a group of
prophecies (chapters 40-55)
consoling the exiles in Baby-
lon and the city of Jerusa-
lem, now bereft of her
"children" (inhabitants). The
prophet stresses that the
powerless idols of the na-
tions will be no obstacle to
God in His redemption of
Israel, just as they were in
no way responsible for His
exile of Israel (sins caused
the exile). The prophet goes
on to predict the fall of
Babylon (chapter 47 and
elsewhere), the return of the
exiles under Cyrus (named
in 44:28 and 45:1 and al-
luded to elsewhere) and the
rejuvenation of Jerusalem.
Among the verses immedi-
ately preceding the "suffer-
ing servant" passage, we find
the song to be sung by the
watchman in Jerusalem:

Break into joy, sing to-
gether, ye waste places of
Jerusalem; for the Lord
hath comforted his people,
he hath redeemed Jerusa-
lem. (52:9).
Just two verses before:
Behold, my servant shall
prosper (52:13), we read
God's directive to the cap-
tives: "Depart ye, depart ye,
go ye out from thence . . .
be ye clean, that bear the
vessels of the Lord (52:11)"
a clear allusion to the ves-
sels of the sanctuary which
were taken to Babylon when
the Temple was destroyed
and brought back, as Ezra
(1:7) tells. us, by the return-
ing exiles. The passage im-
mediately following chapter
53 is addressed to Jerusalem,
urging her to "enlarge the
place of thy tent" in prepa-
ration for the returning
exiles, for "more are the
children of the desolate than
the children of the married
wife." Now if the suffering
servant is the Messiah, 52:13-
15-53:1-12 are totally di-
vorced from what comes be-
fore them and after them.
If, however, the servant is
Israel, 52-53 fit right into
(2) There is no explicit
identification of "servant"
with the Messiah in Chap-
ters 40-55 ("David," "branch
from David," or even
"king;" the Hebrew Messiah
as a designation for the Mes-
siah is not found in the Old
Testament), while Israel is
identified as God's servant
in 41:8-9, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20,
(3) The suffering of the
servant is always discussed
in the past tense while his
reward is discussed in the
future tense.

brought as a lamb to the
And they are hid in prison
But these are mistransla-
Moreover, the identifica-
tions of the Hebrew, cor- tion of the servant with
rected in the Revised Ver-
(Continued on Page 15)
For he grew up before
him .. . like a root out of
dry ground, and like a
lamb that is led to the
slaughter . . . he opened
not his mouth.
(4) There is not a single
Old Testament parallel for
the suffering Messiah inter-
pretation. The missionaries,
it is true, adduce "parallels"
from the Prophets and
Psalms, but they do so only
by arbitrarily identifying
first person pronouns with
Jesus rather than with the
stated antecedent, i.e., the
Psalmist named in the su-
perscription or the prophet
whose words the book con-
tains. Israel's suffering in
exile, on the other hand, is
attested in numerous pas-
sages, such 42:22:
But this is a people robbed
and spoiled,
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(The references to suffering 111111111111111111HINIMIHIMIIIHIHIHHIMIHIHIMMIHIMIHIMIIIIMIlill
and sin-bearing in 53.10-11 can
be translated into the future
tense without doing violence to
Hebrew grammar, but such a
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rendering is not compelled by
the Hebrew and it destroys the t.
flow of the passage since all
other references to suffering are
unequivocally in the past tense,
including one in verse 10 itself
and another in verse 12.)


This makes sense if the
servant is Israel in exile;
throughout 40-55, addressed
to the exiles, the exile is
spoken of as an accomplished
fact. But if the servant is the
Messiah, why is the past
tense ever used in describing
his suffering?
King James, pr ob a bly
bothered by this, chose to
render -53:2 and 53:7 as
He shall grow up before
him . . . like a root out of
dry ground, and He is

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